Low Expectations – An Unusual Way to Find Contentment
It’s not a secret that I want to become a person of character! That’s what IntentionalEveryDay.com is all about.
One of the areas of my life that I’m working on is contentment! I want to be more content with life!! Contentment is key for so many things like simple living, happiness, and developing good relationships. Like so many things in life, contentment is a choice.
Contentment makes what we have enough.
Truth is, I struggle here. I’m a big thinker. I get excited and I set goals too high. I also spend too much money or time on good things and I end up missing the most important things. I’m a dreamer. I like to think about the pie in the sky!! Unfortunately, if things don’t occur just so once I set my mind to it, I get a little aggravated. To combat this, I have implemented low expectations in my life to help keep me in a place of contentment and happiness!!
Now, I know what you are thinking. I’m not saying set low expectations for everything. No way! Some things require high expectations. Let me explain the difference. You need high expectations when you set goals, make certain choices, aspirations, etc. These are things you can control. However, when it comes to people or trips/outings sometimes I’m disappointed because people didn’t do what I expected or I didn’t get things accomplished that I wanted. These are things that are out of my control. That is what requires low expectations. Got it!! Set the bar high for things that you control and low for things you can’t.
My inspiration for this approach came from the realization that others do not react/do/enjoy the same as myself. And that’s ok. My happiness is not dependent on others. I get to choose contentment and happiness.
Simply, I find peace, joy, and contentment in simple moments of life and the rest is gravy!!! This mindset is a part of my approach to live a simple, contented life.
Sounds silly when I say it out loud but when I want to go to 14 different places and events during a weekend it may not be logical or even feasible to fit it in. If you can fit it in, how exhausted do you want to be at the end of the trip or weekend? I have to choose what makes sense and what will also bring the most joy.
Example, when my family goes on vacation I pick one thing to do that I know I will enjoy and I commit to it. M does the same. Now we have a week to fit in two items. That’s totally doable! When the kids get older we’ll do the same for them. We both know that we will be able to do other things, rest or whatever we want but this frees us up mentally and emotionally to have freedom in our choices.
Another example, sometimes it hurts when people don’t support me or my family like I thought they should’ve been. I expected something that was unrealistic. Fact is, people are unpredictable and if I set my expectations high concerning what others will do, I’m usually disappointed. This doesn’t mean people are bad, it simply means that I need to adjust my mindset to prevent others from disrupting my joy, even accidentally. I need my mind to be in a good place so I don’t have bad feelings. Those are never fun and they are not welcome!!
How this works –
1) Basic Thinking – In the most basic terms, I think about what will make me happy with a given circumstance. So for birthdays, gatherings, special occasions, trips, etc. I only think about what I know will occur, maybe one or two items, and determine to be happy and content with just this. I don’t need everyone to show up with balloons for an occasion to make it special. I do, however, need my husband and I know he will be there for me (no pressure).
2) Enoy the Extras – With step 1 in place you are now able to enjoy anything extra because you won’t be thinking about what didn’t occur. You’ll be thinking about what did occur and how thankful you are. If anyone else does anything for the occasion it’s truly a bonus that I am thankful for.
Recently, my family went to our family farm in Virginia for a weekend. It had been a while since we had visited and I was looking forward to it. When I thought about the weekend, I knew that we would be able to play outside together (talk about simple), ride on the Mule and slow down to visit with family. I expected this and looked forward to it. Pretty simple, low expectations for a weekend. On the last night of the trip, my husband took me outside to show me something. I was excited. I looked up and the stars were amazing. They were so bright. The sky was so clear. It was truly breathtaking. We even saw some shooting stars. I have only seen stars this clear just a few times in my life. As we were standing, gazing into the heavens I had to thank God for the beautiful evening, the beauty of His creation, and that I could share this with my husband. He had given a special gift to Mike and me. On our way home the next day, Mike asked what was your favorite thing? My favorite thing was seeing the stars. All the other adventures I expected and knew were coming. Those adventures were fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but the stars were a surprise and truly fabulous!!
When you decide to make changes, you have to make choices to get there!
Progress through purpose, change through choice!!
What choices do you make to bring contentment? What can you do to become more contented?